Saturday, November 13, 2010

a very sincere pumpkin patch

i am really enjoying the pumpkins from my garden this fall. and i smile at how little i did to deserve such a wonderful harvest! these are truly a gift. last fall i got some lovely sugar baby pie pumpkins from a friend's garden. but i had one left over that never got cooked and baked into something yummy or even put in the freezer for later. instead the poor thing was shuffled from the kitchen counter to the laundry room when the fall decorations gave way to christmas. then moved from the laundry room to the mud room when i cleaned one day. by now the pumpkin was looking pretty sad and slightly mushy. mark wondered why i was keeping it and i had to face it: i was not going to get around to cooking up that pumpkin. it had definitely gone by! so it was thrown outside into the flower bed. i noticed that a mouse found it and gnawed a hole in it to feast on the seeds. i'm sure it was quite a windfall for him so late in the winter when his store of seeds must be running low. spring finally came and what was left of the pumpkin was given to the chickens. i welcomed warmer weather and was anxious to get busy in my garden. it was then, while weeding my flower bed, that i noticed something sprouting, maybe sunflowers? i might have spilled some birdseed. but then i realized. these were volunteer pumpkin sprouts! what seemed like hundreds! i transplanted 3 small seedlings into the vegetable garden and sadly weeded out the rest. the little guys did not receive much attention from me over the summer. i think i gave it one good weeding and let nature do the watering. the result was 20 beautiful pie pumpkins, an undeserved gift!

(i know, that is quite a story to introduce this blog post!)

freshly pureed pumpkin

how to make fresh pumpkin puree

after cutting open the pumpkin, scoop out the inside seeds and pulp. (yes! i saved the seeds this time!) next, cut the pumpkin into chunks leaving the skin on. place in a large pot and add a few inches of water. cover and bring to a boil. turn down to a simmer and cook, covered, until pumpkin is soft. when cool enough to handle scoop pumpkin from the skins. puree in a food processor. drain pumpkin in a fine sieve for 10 or 15 minutes to remove any extra liquid. freeze in 2 cup quantities in freeze bags or containers. (2 cups roughly equals a small can of pumpkin)

and in the spirit of the season, i made some pumpkin cutout cookies. :o)

everyday gift: a bountiful harvest of pumpkins

Friday, November 12, 2010

fungus fascination

it was a hot afternoon and i was walking the path next to the creek. the shade felt good. all around me were the dark greens of the trees and brush, the black earth underfoot, and the tall dark brown trunks of the trees, with dappled sunlight peeking through the leaves. and then, across the creek, i saw an explosion of color. orange.

an old fallen tree slanted down the steep bank and dipped into the water below. it hosted a beautiful colony of lichen in full bloom, so bright and unexpected that it took my breath away. i hiked back to the house to get the camera.

i had to overcome mud, thorns, poison ivy, and mosquitoes, but i managed to get in a good position on the other side of the creek to photograph the phenomenon. i am so glad i went to the trouble, because a week later, when i returned to sight, the lichen had faded. it was not nearly as stunning as it had been.

God gives beauty and color in such unexpected places. watch for it!

everyday gift: unexpected color

the hope of a spring yet to come

autumn's overnight frost has ushered in the end of summer.
what was once green and lush, now turns brown and brittle.
the milkweed pods look like death shrouds,
but as it splits open it reveals something quite opposite of death;
a hundred seeds spill out with wings that will carry them on the wind.
seeds that carry the hope of new life and a spring yet to come.

everyday gift: beauty in a milkweed pod